Massage Therapist Job 
Private Practice vs. Franchise Spa Chain

A private practice massage therapist job location could be in the therapist's home office or a rented office space, massage clinic, or private  doctor's office.

Spa franchises are often referred to as the "Wal-mart" of the spa/massage industry, because they are putting those in "mom and pop" private practice out of business, and they pay therapists very little for their services. It is the franchise owner who makes the money, certainly not the massage therapists or other franchise workers.

Therapists often choose to open a private practice office and be self-employed after several years of working in a spa and/or working for someone else.

If you choose to see a massage therapist in a private practice, these are a few things to expect:

  • A more relaxed atmosphere - sometimes a spa can feel a little "uppity" and may make you feel very uncomfortable, especially if you are hesitant anyway
  • An experienced therapist - often the therapist has already worked for someone else for a few years
  • A warm greeting by the therapist and talking in-depth before the session - sometimes spa therapists are too busy to talk about your health issues and why you are seeking massage services 
  • A very quiet environment - sometimes a spa or salon can be loud, especially on a busy Saturday

Private practice massage can be a little intimidating, especially when the office is in a private home. Just remember, the therapist is very accustomed to using his/her home as a business, and very dedicated to making your massage a good experience.

Walking into someone's home that you have never met before, or going into a private  office for the first time can feel strange, as most people hate going to the doctor anyway.

You may have questions like:

  • This is my first massage, what will it be like?
  • What types of massage should I ask about?
  • How do I find a massage therapist that is licensed/certified in private practice and what questions should I ask?
  • Will the therapist push me to by products to use at home? (This does not usually happen in a private practice.)
  • Are massage tips expected in private practice?

Although the therapist often makes more money in a private practice massage therapist job, you the client, should not expect to pay anymore than you would at a spa, in fact, it may be much less.

Spas are not only charging for the cost of the therapist, but for the environment and spa atmosphere.

Health clubs usually have special massage therapy/spa prices for members, and then a higher price for non-members. Often services are limited at health clubs however, as most clubs cater to members who often need deep tissue or sports massage.

Benefits of private practice massage therapy vs. spa franchise:

  • No pressure to buy a membership
  • No monthly membership fees
  • You get the full hour of massage in private practice (if not more), where the franchise spa is usually only 50 minutes
  • Tipping is often optional in a private practice and encouraged in the spa
  • You get massage from a therapist who is not doing one massage after another all day, every day, and can focus on your individual needs
  • Privacy - no dealing with other clients, therapists, or office staff
  • Parking is free and often right at the door you enter
  • Other services are not pushed 
  • Consistency - You get the same therapist every time, and franchise spas are known for high turnover rates
  • Experience - Experienced therapists are usually in private practice, and spa franchises are often hiring new therapists right out of massage school
  • Appointments are easy to schedule
  • Buying additional products is not pushed in private practice
  • Private practice is usually very quiet and spas can be busy and loud

Other Resources

Read more about franchise massage on Elephant Journal at:

The private practice massage therapist job is appealing to many because it offers a private atmosphere, lower prices for massage, and an attentive massage therapist, whose focus is solely on you, the client.

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